Bridget: A Burn Survivor Story
By: Bridgett Everette
Hello everybody, I'm 15 years old, my name is Bridget Everette and a little over 8 years ago I was burned in a propaine explosion. Now, 8 years later, I'm going to share my story.
Ever since I was 2, I was a child model. I was in many beauty pageants, model shots and other related events. By the time I was 5, I had developed a strong interest in acting. I had been wanting to start going to auditions and also attend Minisink Valley Elementary School. Life was going really good. My Mom, Jessica, had just recently started dating a man, Steve Burns. My Mother and Father divorced when I was three and he was living in Texas with his new wife. Steve had two younger children, Kelli who was a year younger than me and Keelin who was an infant at the time. We had just decided to all move in together. They had been dating about a year and a half now, and after a couple of "family vacations" and birthday parties, we thought it was the right thing to do. We were still looking to buy a house and decided to rent until we found one. It was in Mount Hope, which is a quiet, little town, lots of trees and a big yard. We thought it was going to be the best time of our lives. The day before we moved in me and Kelli went down to New York City. Keelin, the younger girl, was already getting a lot of modeling work as a Gap Baby We were both signed for Wee Willimeana Modeling Agency and were going to make appointments for photo shots. That night I went to my Grandfathers house. He had a lot of my old beauty pagent dresses and I always liked to put them on. Kelli and Keelin had stayed with my Mom to help start moving in to the new house. I arrived that morning with my Grandfather. My Grandfather owned a cleaning business and offered to clean the carpets before we all settled in. We got there and as soon as we walked into the house my Grandfather noticed an unusual smell. Before he could say anything Kelli ran up to him showing him how she just learned top braid a barbies hair. I remember her showing us how she did it. She was so happy and so proud of herself.
My Grandfather finished his job scolding me and Kelli half the time, for jumping off the stairs without the railing on. The railing had been taken off for repairs. After that, he left and told my Mom "You better get that smell checked out." But nobody really thought anything of it. My Mom, holding the baby in one arm, told me and Kelli to go put our shoes on, and that we were going to visit Steve at work. I remember running outside on the front porch and grabbing my sneakers (they were those white little Keds). I adlso remember my Mom asking me why I had on that little velvet dress. I told her that it was only for dress up. She said we'd stop at home to change before we went anywhere. So, while Kelli was on the porch putting on her sneakers, I ran halfway up the stairs and sat down, starting to put my sneakers on. As I slipped the second shoe on, I felt a really big rumble. At first I thought it was an earthquake. I stood up and clung onto the wall. Then all of a sudden the flames burst up through the floor. I screamed and ran upstairs. Then, remembering what I learned in fire safety week in school the week before, I ran back down the stairs. Before I reached the bottom step, I realized, I couldn't get down that way. Huge flames were shooting up almost touching the ceiling. I just stared at them for a moment. Then, remember the broken rails, I jumped about 8 feet off the stairs, hitting my head along the way. I ran out the door and onto the front porch. I saw Kelli, my best friend, lying on the ground. She was still on fire. As a total human being's instinct, I ran over to her and started rolling her into the dirt, trying to put out the flames. After a minute or so, I was successful. We both got up and ran towards the road. Before we got there my Mother ran up to both of us. Her and the baby had not been injured but she seen our injuries and panicked. They had ran out the back door but then back through the front looking for us.
At this point, all I remember is a Beware of Dog sign. It has been about 100 feet next door, at the neighbors house. I jumped right over the fence and ran up the stairs to the front door. My Mother pounded on it and an old woman answered (probably in her late 50's, early 60's). I don't remember much, I do remember telling Kelli that everything would be alright on the way to Horton Medical Center. My Mom had been a paramedic and was well known in the Emergency Room. After about half an hour there, we were transported by ambulance to Westchester Burn Unit. I remember they were going to take a helicopter but it was too windy. I woke up about 2 weeks later. I had suffered from a concusion, from hitting my head. I was wrapped from head to toe in white dressing. I had no idea what was going on. I do remember I kept asking why I was in the fish tank and how come everyone was singing (I was on excessive pain medication). I received 19 surgeries within 3 months of staying in the hospital. I was not ready to go home. I kept getting sick. The Doctors claimed it was from being there. I still could not walk on my own and had to go through about an hour of painful dressing changes a day. I was brave. Being burned about 70% of my body and Kelli about 60%, was no easy task for my Mother and Kelli's Father. It took about a year of pressure garments, constent visits to Westchester about an hour away, having to practically carry us everywhere.
When I returned to school, I got a really good welcome back. I go to a really good school. There was an assembly to welcome us back where the children were explained what had happened. Everybody already knew though. We were given our own table at lunch right by the door were we could pick who we wanted to sit with us. They changed Kelli's lunch so she could be with me. Everybody was really helpful.
Now, 8 years later, I'm in 10th grade. And well, you remember what 10th grade was like, it's actually not bad at all. I've had one encounter with someone this year. But that, was the first in about 3 years. Yes, people treat me differently, but it's not in a bad way. It is funny actually, some act like I'm going to break. I've still had to go to Shriners in Boston, for reconstructive surgery. And I will be returning there in the near future Yet slowly, yet surely, I am recovering physically and mentally from the accident. Aside from having difficult sweating (which is a common thing in Burn Survivors), I have no other physical difficulties. I go to a Burn Camp in Connecticut. I've been going there since I was 8 years old. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I've met so many people that know exactly how I feel, and that I'm able to talk to. My Mom and Kelli's Dad broke up not long after the accident. Me and Kelli are still very close friends, (basically like sisters, we bicker from time to time). Me nor Kelli do any modeling anymore. Keelin stopped her career right after the accident but started back up when she was 4. She has been in several catalogs and ads. I have recovered quite nicely from the accident and would like to be able to help others.
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